Have you ever wondered?
Have you ever wondered why almost all 'modern' buildings in a tropical/sub-tropical nation like India have steel-and-glass facades?
I live in the National Capital Region. As such, I am never short of things at which to be pissed off. However, in this case, I would like to talk about my bafflement at the sea of glass and steel that meets the eye as one drives through the city. Sure, it looks very neat and swanky. But,can you imagine the amount of air-conditioning required to maintain the interiors of such buildings at comfortable temperatures? That too in an area where electricity,like water, is at a premium? They are rather ill-suited to Indian cities with their infernal summers and power shortages. They may work for Europe or North America, but not here in our nation. Are better,more efficient designs available? Does anyone know if any efforts have been made in this regard?
The first thing that came to mind on reading the OP was this excerpt from Howard Roark's unflattering description of the Parthenon in Fountainhead.

Quote:"Look," said Roark. "The famous flutings on the famous columns--what are they there for? To hide the joints in wood--when columns were made of wood, only these aren’t, they’re marble. The triglyphs, what are they? Wood. Wooden beams, the way they had to be laid when people began to build wooden shacks. Your Greeks took marble and they made copies of their wooden structures out of it, because others had done it that way. Then your masters of the Renaissance came along and made copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Now here we are, making copies in steel and concrete of copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Why?"
"Rules?" said Roark. "Here are my rules: what can be done with one substance must never be done with another. No two materials are alike. No two sites on earth are alike. No two buildings have the same purpose. The purpose, the site, the material determine the shape. Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it’s made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose...

The 'copies of copies' story occurs throughout history and across civilizations. In Episode 3: The Age of Enlightenment in the India Invented series, Dr. Arvind Narayan Das narrates:

Quote:The Buddha prescribed regulations for the monks and nuns who belonged to the Sangha, a life of simplicity. A dress-code was also prescribed for the Sangha. A few poles stuck to the ground at both ends and joined by roof-poles, formed the skeleton of the original monks' hut. Later, lay followers built and donated to the Sangha larger huts made from the same material, that permitted the monks to stand upright. In this way was created the typical Buddhist building style with a gabled entrance, vaulted roof and round apse.

To be charitable to the people content with 'copies of copies' we might say that there is a tradeoff between the ease of familiarity and the overheads to build the most technically flawless structure. As long as the structure doesn't collapse, frills and laces and quaint designs people may prefer, cause little harm we may say. The sheer persistence of certain 'copies of copies' may in some cases just result from laziness to institute new standards, what we may call the QWERTY legacy, very visible even in the means this forum is being typed out.

Perhaps one of the most dramatic instances of how familiarity influences people even when it maybe at odds with the imperative of survival, is the curious case of the Bengal famine mixture. The prospective of death by starvation wouldn't override rescued concentration-camp inhabitants' immediate distaste for baby-food from halfway across the world! Such lessons from history are not wholly irrelevant to current policy decisions, when, for instance, laboratory-certified nutritional materials are available but children will most willingly eat only what they have been conditioned to view as wholesome due to their culture and upbringing.

How conditioned corporates' views are of what an office must look like, and how conditioned even starving persons' views can be of what a meal must be like, are sobering reminders of challenges for freethought advocates or anyone promoting a worldview at variance with widespread conditioning.

Edit : 24 Aug 2013 Fixed broken links to India Invented episode
Quote:Are better,more efficient designs available? Does anyone know if any efforts have been made in this regard?
I know that many offices in the world and India too are opting for this type of glass that is highly reflective that is they are coated in a way that almost all of the heat is reflected back and entered heat can escape easily.
Also they look just like your everyday swanky steel and glass buildings.
I don't know how effective they are though and you know how things are exaggerated in advertisements.
Google skycool for an example of such products.

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